Monday, October 24, 2011

The Business of Death: By Trent Jamieson



Steven de Selby has a hangover. Bright lights, loud noise, and lots of exercise are the last thing he wants. But that's exactly what he gets when someone starts shooting at him.

Steven is no stranger to death - Mr. D's his boss after all - but when a dead girl saves him from sharing her fate, he finds himself on the wrong end of the barrel. His job is to guide the restless dead to the underworld but now his clients are his own colleagues, friends, and family.

Mr. D's gone missing and with no one in charge, the dead start to rise, the living are hunted, and the whole city teeters on the brink of a regional apocalypse - unless Steven can shake his hangover, not fall for the dead girl, and find out what happened to his boss - that is, Death himself.

THE BUSINESS OF DEATH includes the first two volumes of the Death Works trilogy, Death Most Definite and Managing Death, as well as the third volume.


I had mixed feelings when I saw that Orbit wasn’t releasing the third book in Trent Jamieson’s Death series as its own novel, but was combining all of the books into an omnibus edition of all three books in the series. While it does allow new readers a chance to get into the series in one fell swoop, it does certainly offer a disincentive (in both the price and the size, considering many followers of the series would most likely own the previous two books already). But after thinking it over this size/cost impediment is insignificant when compared with the benefit of getting to read and enjoy the final book in the series.

If you couldn’t tell in all that preamble, I thoroughly enjoyed the Business of Death series. I felt like the first book, acted almost as a prequel, establishing the characters and the story. The second book in the series, is really where the tires meets the road (if the road was the plot in this example, and the tires are the excitement, meat, and pace of the story). Finally in the third installment, Jamieson does a fantastic job dealing with the issues of both the first and second books in the series, as well introducing some new twists and turns that really surprised me.

I mention all of this in vague details because since this omnibus contains the entire series, I’m a tad unsure what I should include so as to not ruin the story in later books for readers. What I can mention though is that if you enjoy action, creative and interesting characters (especially Mr. D and Wal), and a book jam packed with twists and sabotage then this is the book for you.

8.5 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: September 19, 2011

Price: $15.99

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bloodstone: By Nancy Holzner



They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders - but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human...

Boston's diverse South End is known for its architecture and great restaurants, not its body count. So when mutilated human corpses begin turning up in the area, the entire city takes notice. The killer-dubbed the South End Reaper-uses a curved blade for his grisly work. And even though there's no real evidence pointing to a paranormal culprit, the deaths are straining the already-tense relations between Boston's human and inhuman residents.

As the bodies pile up, Vicky, her formidable aunt, Mab, and her werewolf boyfriend, Kane investigate, only to find that the creature behind the carnage is after something much more than blood...


Are you a fan of chicks kicking ass?

Are you a fan of teenage zombies, with ironic senses of humor?

What about a sword wielding shape shifter who cuts down demons?

Well if the answer to these questions is yes, then you’re in luck because Nancy Holzner’s third Deadtown novel, Bloodstone, is out in stores now.

Deadtown is the sectioned off part of Boston that houses the paranormal creatures that the norms are afraid of. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, witches, and even the odd troll. Of course with the humans scared of these “monsters”, they have to check in and out of appointed check points before leaving, and some, like the zombies, can’t leave at all.

The Deadtown series is part paranormal suffrage movement, part demon killing action, and a touch of romance thrown in for good measure (don’t worry it’s neither done poorly nor overwhelming, just a tad thrown in to move the story along.) The series is fun and addictive and I personally am always waiting for the next book in the series to come out.

In Bloodstone, readers finally get to know what happened to Juliet, Vicky’s vampire roommate (and THE Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.) Vicky has to deal with the aftermath of the Pryce situation (with him disappearing in Hellforged). And readers even get to see Vicky and Kane’s relationship evolve some more. Of course all of those pales in comparison to what we learn about the mysterious Aunt Mab, as readers finally get a chance to see her back story and answer some questions that have been gnawing away at them from the previous books.

All in all Bloodstone is a fun book. Its action is fast paced, its characters are well developed and interesting to read about, and its plot and dialog are well written and attention-grabbing. I’d definitely recommend going back and reading the previous books in the series before starting this one, but it’ll definitely be worth it.

9 out of 10


Publisher: Ace

Published: September 27, 2011

Price: $7.99

Aloha From Hell: By Richard Kadrey



In Sandman Slim Stark came back from hell for revenge.

In Kill the Dead he tackled both a zombie plague and being Lucifer’s bodyguard.

Once again all is not right in L.A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God is on vacation, and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell.

Stark’s got to head back down to his old stomping grounds in Hell to rescue his long lost love, stop an insane serial killer, prevent both Good and Evil from completely destroying each other, and stop the demonic Kissi from ruining the party for everyone.

Even for Sandman Slim, that’s a tall order. And it’s only the beginning.


I loved Sandman Slim. It was gritty, fast paced, and full of all the magic and mayhem anyone could want. Then in its sequel Kill the Dead I liked some of the new elements and characters introduced (especially Lucifer) but felt like it went a little off point. Now in the third installment in this series we finally get back to the main story arc we were introduced to in the first book, Starks revenge with Mason.

Mason is the reason Stark became Sandman Slim. He trapped him in hell and from there Stark was forced to become the monster we see now. Of course in Aloha From Hell we are shown the inner workings of Mason’s past to final understand a little better why he wanted to go to hell in the first place. Kadrey does a great job introducing this new information and making Mason into a much broader character from it.

Of course, one thing that I dearly missed in the series were the supporting characters (especially Lucifer from Kill the Dead). Aloha From Hell is about Stark and Mason’s pasts and their reunion in Hell. There were new characters introduced (such as Jack the Ripper) but they didn’t have the same oomph or charisma that Lucifer or Candy had.

That said this book is pretty darn fun to read. It has everything it promises (action, magic, Hell, and revenge) and it moves at a fast clip. I would not recommend reading this book when you have something else due the next day, as your wont be able to put it down. But if you are free from imminent obligations for the next few days then I’d easily recommend this dark and gritty third installment in the Sandman Slim series.

9 out of 10


Publisher: Harper Voyager

Published: October 18, 2011

Price: $23.99

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Goblin War: By Hilari Bell



Tobin has finally crossed back from the Otherworld, where he was trapped in mortal peril for months—only to be captured by the dreaded, bloodthirsty barbarians the moment he enters his own Realm. Meanwhile, the pretty hedgewitch Makenna and her legion of goblins are still trying to find a way out of the Otherworld before it fatally drains their magic and life force. To escape, they will need help from the spirits that live there—but that aid will not come freely.

Now the barbarians are out to take over the Realm, and only Makenna, Tobin, and his younger brother, Jeriah, know what is needed to stop them. They’ll need to work together—and with the goblins—to formulate a plan. The answer lies with the Otherworld spirits and also with the blood amulets that give infinite power to the barbarians. The question is: Can they band together and save the Realm in time?


Around this time last year, I mentioned that I was both surprised and giddy by the fact that Hilari Bell had revisited an old stand alone novel that I absolutely loved, The Goblin Wood.

The Goblin Wood is one of those books that sticks with you when you read it. Its characters, (especially Tobin and Makenna the protagonists) are fantastic, realistic, and fun to read about. The plot is engaging and fast paced. And the writing captivating, and just plain well written.

It's follow-up, The Goblin Gate, was just as enthralling as The Goblin Wood, but focused on (Jeriah and Cogswhallop), smaller characters in The Goblin Wood. The action packed follows up with the aftermath of the war and escape of Makenna and the Goblins, and introduces entire new aspects of the story readers were not aware of in the previous book. Of course like The Goblin Wood, The Goblin Gate is captivating, fun, and well written. But unfortunately it does contain the curse of the second book in a trilogy, as it leaves readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next.

And now we finally get to The Goblin War. The Goblin War takes all the pieces of the first two books and puts them together. All of the main characters are given signifigant time to shine and Bell does a fantastic job tying together and weaving these two stories into an exciting and action packed ending.

The story focuses on the issue of the invading barbarians presented at the end of The Goblin Gate. Each of the characters takes a substantial role in the outcome of the issue, each contributing in their own unique way. By the end of the book readers will feel both sad at the ending of the series, and satisfied with the resolution reached.

Like its predecessors, The Goblin War contains fantastic dialog, wonderful characters, fun magic, good writing, and a fast paced plot. If you haven't read Bell's previous books in the series, make sure that you do, for while you would probably be able to follow along (Bell does a good job reminding and explaining certain circumstances that characters are in, because of the large time gap between the books), these books are wonderful and need to be read in sequence to get the utmost enjoyment out of them. All in all, I loved this series and am sad to see it end. Bel does a fantastic job and I'd certainly recommend them to anyone looking for a good book.

10 out of 10


Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: October 11, 2011

Price: $17.99

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Dragon's Tooth: By N.D. Wilson



For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.

Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world's secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.


When I was given The Dragon’s Tooth, I was more than a little skeptical of it. It looked much more juvenile than I usually like, what with its explorer like society, the magic that it describes, and the age of the characters. That coupled with the cover made me think this was not going to be something that was going to be for me.

I was thoroughly surprised.

Wilson does a superb job creating intelligent interesting characters (especially the protagonist Cyrus), that I really felt acted in a much more realistic (and enjoyable) manner. Of course it wasn’t just that Cy acts more grown up than you would expect for a middle grade reader, it’s that Wilson obviously treated the reader’s intelligence with respect when creating this character, in that he isn’t dumbed down, which I find quite a lot of middle grade books do to their characters. Of course not all the characters are quite as interesting as Cyrus, I was a little disappointed with Maxi (a black and white villain), and some of the other supporting characters, but overall I was still impressed with the lineup.

As for the plot itself, that too surprised me. There was much more action than I was expecting, and while some of it seemed to jump about a bit, overall I was very impressed. Wilson also throws in some interesting twists with the Smiths background that I hadn’t fully expected, but found quite enjoyable. Not only that but Wilson makes the smart move and doesn’t expect the readers to believe the Smiths just learned everything in a short period of time. Yes, it is still fast, but I felt the way Wilson handled it was very apt.

All in all don’t let this cover fool you. This is a great middle grade book that will entertain and captivate readers as they get to know the world of the Order and the Smiths. The protagonists are well written, the action fast paced, and the story interesting. Plus Wilson leaves some intriguing mysteries for the readers to wait on until the next installment of this interesting series, that I will certainly read.

8.5 out of 10


Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Published: August 23, 2011

Price: $16.99